Ten Wealth Lessons for Our Children

This post is part of Generation One Blog Tour which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and to join us as we tell the world how we are creating generational wealth, CLICK HERE!  

When it comes to money, I started from zero. Well, actually, it was below zero—a couple of thousand dollars in debt spread across a handful of credit cards that I had somehow qualified for as a college student at Howard University in the mid 80’s.   When I, a first generation college graduate, walked across the stage to receive my Bachelor’s degree, I felt on top of the world. I was graduating Magna cum Laude in the hot technology field and landed what I believed was my dream job at IBM. I was a couple of months away from being engaged to my dream girl (now my wife of 27 years) who was also graduating with an accounting degree and headed to work for a top public accounting firm. But, we were woefully ignorant as to just how little I really knew about what it would take to climb the ladder of wealth creation. Twenty-eight years later we are a lot wiser. But, so much time (and money) was lost with poor decision-making. As we’ve just passed the fifty year mark, one central question keeps arising, “How do I pass along a wealth generation system to my children so that they never have to start from zero as I did?”

First, it is important for me to convey that I feel blessed. I have a healthy family. I have a wonderful marriage. We’ve raised great children. We’ve striven to orient our lives around God’s desire for us. We own a nice home in the Philadelphia suburbs. We rent out another home in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. We make six figure incomes,  have several hundred thousand dollars across a few retirement savings accounts, and tens of thousands in savings accounts. Our only debts are our houses and one car.

According to the most recent census data from 2012, which puts the median household income at $51,017, Dalia and I are considered in the upper income bracket in the U.S. While we are certainly grateful for all that God has placed in our hands, Dalia and I both know that we are not financially wealthy. Yes, we’ve come a long ways from below zero when we graduated to where we are today. And, compared to much of the world, we are certainly in a privileged position. But, here is the reality we are only a few missed paychecks away from struggling to pay our mortgage. Yes, I said we own our home in Philadelphia. But, the reality is that the bank owns our home. And, they will remind us of that fact if we miss even one payment to them. And, when our home in the D.C. area is vacant for more than a month or two, we feel the pinch. Money marked for savings will be diverted to cover that house payment. And, when we have to replace the roof as we did last year we watch the savings dip quite a bit. These are but a few examples of the fragility of our financial status. In other words, what is wealth really?

Everyone has their own definition of “wealthy.” According to CNBC.com, a new survey from UBS asked 4,450 investors what it means to be wealthy. Their response hits the core of why Dalia and I know that we aren’t wealthy. Half of the survey respondents said that being wealthy means having “no financial constraints on activities.” Only 16 percent said it meant “surpassing a certain asset threshold” and 10 percent said it means “not having to work again.” Wow. Having no financial constraints on activities is far removed from where Dalia and I live. Unfortunately, Dalia and I have put ourselves in a position where our employers dictate our ceiling. I watched my dad labor in a blue collar job for more than forty years. Find an employer and work hard for them. That is the life that I knew and accepted as my own course as well. The reality that I have only come to truly appreciate in the past few years is that rarely can one become financially wealthy by working for someone else.

In this second half of my life, I want to pursue a life where there are no financial constraints on our activities. Dalia and I will not be working for others until we reach retirement age. We are putting plans in place to become masters of our own wealth destiny. We are asking God to provide ample resources to fund our lifestyle and our ministries.  And, in recent years we have been stressing entrepreneurism to our children. We want our children and future generations to see wealth from an educated perspective. My wife and I want to be Generation One when it comes to wealth creation—the last generation to start from zero.

As a member of Generation One, I’ve identified the top ten wealth lessons that I want to teach and demonstrate to my children.

  • Lesson #1: Employer stability is largely an illusion. It is more stable to have ten of your own clients than to work for one employer who can let you go at will.
  • Lesson #2: Don’t be enamored with a six figure salary, three weeks of vacation, and benefits when you can become the employer yourself and make a seven-figure salary, have as much vacation as you like, and secure your own benefits plan
  • Lesson #3: Inflation will never allow you to save your way to wealth. You save until you see a prudent investment opportunity that will allow you to outpace inflation.
  • Lesson #4: If you want true financial freedom, you must develop your own business. You will not get wealthy working for someone else.
  • Lesson #5: Look for opportunities to provide a service for which people will pay. If you hear at least three people talk about something they wish existed, then create it yourself.
  • Lesson #6: Thoroughly research your business decisions but avoid analysis paralysis. Look carefully but don’t be afraid to leap.
  • Lesson #7: Always seek the company of others who generate more money than you do. Strive to be the poorest person in the room.
  • Lesson #8: The color of money is green. Shrewd business people will respect green. So, don’t let racial and ethnicity assumptions constrain you.
  • Lesson #9: See other businesses as possible collaborators not as competitors. Don’t think of business as a zero sum game. Look for ways to expand the pie.
  • Lesson #10: Know your value and your strengths. Do what you’re best at and hire others that can do the other things faster and better than you

Of course, with all of that said, we have to strongly and consistently communicate to our children the importance of hard work. We cannot let them expect handouts or have a sense of entitlement. They will have to push their limits and go beyond their comfort zone. But, as they do so they will see the sky is the limit. I want my children and yours to know that they have to work hard. But, they don’t have to start at zero.

As a member of Generation One, I’m excited about the new film being released on July 14th, 2015 by Lamar and Ronnie Tyler of Tyler New Media. Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are co-founders of BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com. They wrote and directed Generation One to give African American families the tools and strategies they need to begin building wealth for their families TODAY. The Tylers know this film has the power to change lives. You can grab your copy HERE.

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler will kick off the debut of #GenerationOne with a live screening in a city near you:

  • Atlanta – Wednesday July 15
  • DC – Thursday July 16
  • Chicago – Saturday  July 18
  • More Cities TBA

*National Wealth Discussion via Social Media July 18th using #GenerationOne*. Visit www.GenerationOneMovie.com for the latest updates.

What does it take for you to be Generation One in your own family? What have you done to successfully convey wealth principles to your children? We can do this together! Can’t wait to hear your comments.